Our Educators

Together, educators at The Mayapple School ensure the maintenance of a high-quality program and are directly responsible for making our school a wonderful place.Whether working with students, parents, or the public, the individuals below each hold an important place at The Mayapple School.


Melissa West

Melissa West is a Teacher, Director, and Founder at The Mayapple School, where she shares her love of adventure and the outdoors with students and campers. She holds a B.S. from Radford University for Interdisciplinary Studies and has earned a Virginia teacher’s license for General Education, Pre-K through 6th grade. Previously, Melissa West has worked as a resident camp counselor for Girl Scouts of all ages, an environmental educator, preschool teacher, and farmhand on organic farms. She is also a founding member of the Virginia Chapter of the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools. Melissa West grew up on Long Island, New York, and came to the New River Valley after falling in love with the mountains during her thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. She lives in Giles County with her husband, son, two cats, and lots of wildlife.


IMG_20181101_113005691_HDRAbigail Middleton

Abigail Middleton has an MLIS in Archival Studies and a BA in Anthropology. Previously, she has worked as a library associate, graduate instructor, AmeriCORPS VISTA volunteer coordinator, archival intern, and scanning technician. Currently, Ms. Middleton is a Teacher at The Mayapple School, where she models acceptance, belonging, and fairness to young children each day. Ms. Middleton enjoys engaging children’s imaginations in the forest through small-world and pretend play, while also keeping an eye out for the natural wonders of “nature discoveries”—especially in the form of mushrooms. She resides in Blacksburg with her husband, dog, and two young children.


grippoCarol Grippo

Carol Grippo has spent the last 27 years working with children as a Kindergarten teacher, a Cub Scout and Girl Scout leader, and as a Sunday School teacher. She has raised four children and now has two grandchildren. Currently, Mrs. Grippo is a part-time Assistant Teacher and Substitute Teacher at The Mayapple School.  A “transplant” from Alexandria and Fairfax, VA, she now lives with her husband in Newport, VA on their hobby farm; in her spare time she also enjoys gardening, crafting, and learning about American history. Mrs. Grippo enjoys encouraging children’s imaginations, respect of nature, and self-confidence in the outdoors.




Mary Claire King 

Mary Claire King is a Wildlife Conservation Major at Virginia Tech and is the Education Co-Chair of the Virginia Tech Chapter of the Wildlife Society, through which she has worked with parents, children, other volunteers, and wildlife at local schools, clubs, and The Mill Mountain Zoo. Mary Claire has interned with The Mayapple School during summer camp and the Fall 2018 semester. She is currently interning for her second semester with us and also serves as The Mayapple School’s Visitor’s Guide.




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